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Archive for July 22nd, 2010

SALISBURY will be the talk of the art world next year when a John Constable exhibition is staged at the city’s museum.

The summertime show is being organised to mark the 200th anniversary of the artist’s arrival in Salisbury. His visits to his friend John Fisher, the then Bishop of Salisbury, are widely accepted as inspiring some of his greatest paintings.

The Constable & Salisbury exhibition will see a multi-million pound collection brought together from both private owners and major art museums.

A final list of Constable’s paintings is still to be confirmed, but the show starting in May next year will include some of the artist’s most important work including several depicting the cathedral and the Harnham Water Meadows.

Richard Morgan, who has led a committee of art enthusiasts in developing the project, announced the three-month exhibition this week.

“This will be a 50-piece collection never seen before. It is work that will be gathered from the leading British galleries and others including the Fitzwilliam in the USA, National Gallery Washington and the Louvre in Paris.”

He was guest speaker at a garden party held by Salisbury law firm Wilsons in the grounds of the museum.

Mr Morgan added: “Museums can change places, just as we have seen in Liverpool and St Ives, and we are planning great changes in this museum.”

He said thanks in part to funding from the English Heritage Lottery Fund they hoped to radically change Salisbury Museum and the Constable exhibition was part of this.

Stephen Oxley, senior partner at Wilsons, said his firm had a tradition of supporting the arts in the city and they were delighted to be a sponsor of this project. “We have worked with the museum and its people for many years and when they approached us in 2008 with an idea from Lord Congleton to put on an exhibition, the likes of which had never been done before, we jumped at the chance to be involved.”

Adrian Green, director of Salisbury Museum, said: “It is almost impossible to view Salisbury Cathedral without thinking of Constable, therefore it is surprising that there has never been a major exhibition of his work in the city.

“As an archaeologist I particularly find Constable’s lesser known views of Old Sarum and Stonehenge evocative. One of Constable’s final exhibits at the Royal Academy was a magnificent watercolour of Stonehenge, shown there in 1836, which will be a major highlight of the exhibition for me.”

Salisbury Tour Guide
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An image detailing the new 'henge'
Archaeologists say the find is “exceptional”

Archaeologists have discovered a second henge at Stonehenge, described as the most exciting find there in 50 years.

 The circular ditch surrounding a smaller circle of deep pits about a metre (3ft) wide has been unearthed at the world-famous site in Wiltshire.

 Archaeologists conducting a multi-million pound study believe timber posts were in the pits.

 Project leader Professor Vince Gaffney, from the University of Birmingham, said the discovery was “exceptional”.

 The new “henge” – which means a circular monument dating to Neolithic and Bronze Ages – is situated about 900m (2,950ft) from the giant stones on Salisbury Plain.

It’s a timber equivalent to Stonehenge”

 End Quote Professor Vince Gaffney University of Birmingham

Images show it has two entrances on the north-east and south-west sides and inside the circle is a burial mound on top which appeared much later, Professor Gaffney said.

 “You seem to have a large-ditched feature, but it seems to be made of individual scoops rather than just a straight trench,” he said.

 “When we looked a bit more closely, we then realised there was a ring of pits about a metre wide going all the way around the edge.

 “When you see that as an archaeologist, you just looked at it and thought, ‘that’s a henge monument’ – it’s a timber equivalent to Stonehenge.

 “From the general shape, we would guess it dates backs to about the time when Stonehenge was emerging at its most complex.

 “This is probably the first major ceremonial monument that has been found in the past 50 years or so.

 ‘Terra incognita’

“This is really quite interesting and exceptional, it starts to give us a different perspective of the landscape.”

 Data from the site is being collected as part of a virtual excavation to see what the area looked like when Stonehenge was built.

 Speculation as to why the 4,500-year-old landmark was built will continue for years to come, but various experts believe it was a cemetery for 500 years, from the point of its inception.

 In 2008, the first excavation in nearly half a century was carried out at the iconic site on Salisbury Plain.

 This latest project is being funded by the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology, in Vienna, and the University of Birmingham, and is assisted by the National Trust and English Heritage.

 Professor Gaffney said he was “certain” they would make further discoveries as 90% of the landscape around the giant stones was “terra incognita” – an unexplored region.

 “The presumption was this was just an empty field – now you’ve got a major ceremonial monument looking at Stonehenge,” he said.

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